Graphene has been dubbed a “miracle” material, being around 200-times stronger than steel, transparent and able to efficiently conduct heat and electricity.
But finding the best way to use it is actually a tough job, with trial and error needed to find the best products to adapt it to.
“Sustainable, simple and a scalable way” to produce graphene
Founded 12 years ago, its aim is to design a system to produce graphene in a “sustainable, simple and a scalable way”, which it has now achieved, and adapt it to a wide-range of products.
The group is aiming now to focus on its Environmental and Textiles products, where it is very advanced, but it still plans to work with customers in Elastomers and Composites, such as bicycle tyre manufacturer Vittoria, and spectacle makers such as Italy’s Luxottica.
Vittoria was the first manufacturer to use Directa’s products, firstly in a carbon fibre wheel, and then in “intelligent” bicycle tyres.
These stay very hard when rolling, but soft when braking, and were used at the Rio Olympics, where cyclists won four medals using them.
Directa Plus just received anther order to supply 250 kilos of the company's Graphene Plus (G+) for incorporation into Vittoria's range of graphene-enhanced bicycle tyres and wheels.
Elsewhere, the French ski team uses a downhill suit made by joint venture partner Colmar using Directa’s graphene product, tested in wind tunnels to improve performance.
Lots of new partners
Shares in graphene specialists, including Directa, have lost some of the oomph as progress across the sector has been slower than expected.
Directa itself though has been busy tacking on deals across a variety of sectors and has signed up for a pilot for a new type of asphalt with road surface group Iterchemica – think roads without potholes of cracks.
Workwear manufacturer Alfredo Grassi agreed a contract worth €600,000 over 18 months for a range of graphene –enhanced uniforms while Italian oil giant Eni is collaborating on the Grafysorber oil decontaminator.
Revenues in the six months to June 30 were a modest €0.3mln (H1 2016: €0.4mln) due to a reduction in volume of sales in the bicycle tyre market, but Directa expects to double that figure in the second half.
At 47.8p, Directa is worth £21.7mln.